Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

April 10, 2014

Comcast thinks its merger is a gift to us

When David L. Cohen, the executive vice president of Comcast Corp., buttonholes policymakers to talk up his company’s proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable Inc., the first thing he says is that the deal won’t reduce competition in any U.S. geographic market. He’s right, at least when it comes to pay-TV services. After all, the large cable companies long ago divided the country among themselves so that no two of them compete in any one market.

But then, Comcast is adept at making a virtue out of a highly suspect premise. The 174-page public-interest report it filed Tuesday with the Federal Communications Commission to support its merger plan is replete with examples of its skill.

You may remember Comcast’s last big merger, with NBC Universal Inc. in 2011. At the time, Comcast asserted that the deal couldn’t hurt the market because it was a vertical combination — combining programming with distribution — and so was bound to create helpful efficiencies. “Vertical combinations with limited horizontal issues generally do not threaten competition,” Comcast Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in 2010.

Now that Comcast is planning to combine its distribution networks with those of Time Warner Cable, it claims (via a television, radio, print and online campaign) that there couldn’t possibly be any harm because this arrangement is a fully horizontal deal. With greater scale, the combined company will achieve increased efficiencies and synergies, Comcast says. Not that any of those efficiencies will be passed on to consumers: “We’re certainly not promising that customer bills are going to go down or even increase less rapidly,” Cohen says.

Because the benefits of a Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal are not obvious — last month, 52 percent of Americans said they thought it would result in less competition — Comcast also presented, in Tuesday’s statement, a list of additional gifts to the public interest. But each of these supposed benefits comes with a price.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Keeping up with the Comcast call-center fiasco I’ve been intending for a while to write about the Comcast call-center fiasco, but it’s hard to keep up: the story just gets weirder and weirder. Following the now-viral recording of the telephone call in which a customer service representative essen

    August 21, 2014

  • System needed for choosing House In the original conception of our Constitution, the House of Representatives was to be the branch of government that best reflected the will of the people. House members cannot serve without being elected — vacancies are not filled by appointees — an

    August 21, 2014

  • Dems plead for more money I’ve been getting a lot of email from Democratic fundraisers lately. They seem very worried about November’s elections.First came the highly publicized “Impeachment Red Alert” campaign, in which the Democratic congressional committee warned that Repu

    August 21, 2014

  • Why Obama shouldn't go to Ferguson On Monday, ABC’s Ann Compton asked President Barack Obama whether he would visit Ferguson, Missouri, amid the continued unrest. Obama didn’t give a firm answer, but he did suggest it’s probably not a good idea.“When they’re conducting an investigatio

    August 20, 2014

  • Food stamps' $80B secret spending program Imagine a government program that has exploded in size, is the subject of bitter partisan haggling and spends almost $80 billion a year in secret.No, not the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency or the Department of Homeland Secu

    August 20, 2014

  • Vouchers provide greater choice I was chatting the other day with a fellow who, along with his wife, homeschool his children. We joked about the stereotype: Moms in denim skirts.But then he expounded on the benefits his youngsters have derived from being taught at home: a customize

    August 20, 2014

  • A rare experience Alexandra Petri’s editorial, “What exactly are we seeing in Ferguson” is well written and did something which has increasingly become a rare experience for me. Her article caused me to think!Petri makes the case for media coverage of American events,

    August 19, 2014

  • Naive? Simple? I will admit outright that I may be a little naïve and tend to look at things through a simple prism. I received a suggestion for a column with an accompanying article written by By Reed Abelson and Eric Lichtblau concerning the failure of our govern

    August 19, 2014

  • Don't pass 'coup clause' with a security waiver It is a sad reality that national security waivers often render human rights laws moot, inviting the government to overuse the loophole to accommodate immediate needs. The “coup clause,” which mandates foreign aid suspension to countries after a mili

    August 19, 2014

  • Clinton could end up like Gore Although we’re all still sort of pretending that it remains to be seen whether Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016, she recently gave the most definitive confirmation she has to date of her impending candidacy. No, she didn’t say the words

    August 16, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks